BidMachine - 5 min read  - June 23, 2020

Q&A with Demand Rockstars: CrossInstall

The BidMachine team chatted with CrossInstall, recently acquired by Twitter, about the COVID-19 challenges, the shift to first-price auction and notable programmatic trends.

CrossInstall is a programmatic DSP based in San Fransisco. The company has been recently acquired by Twitter after years of strong performance in the industry. We chatted with Andrew “Hochi” Manglapus, VP of Partnerships at CrossInstall, to learn more about the new normal after the COVID-19 struck, CrossInstall’s work principles and priorities, as well as current programmatic trends.

AndrewHochi” Manglapus
VP of Partnerships at CrossInstall

We’re having this conversation during very strange, uncertain times—2020 has not started exactly as we thought it would. In your opinion, how has the coronavirus pandemic affected the work of DSPs so far?

Naturally, getting work done when you can simply walk between the various AM, Creative, Ad Ops, and Analyst desks is a bit more straightforward compared to the WFH (work from home) life we are now living in! Adjusting internal processes and communications to ensure that campaigns are accurately launched and optimized in real-time has always been our top priority. Our team has shifted to more chat heavy conversations and check-ins throughout the day. It is amazing to watch some of the channels firing off consistently to ensure we can operate at the same efficiency as our pre-pandemic levels!

DSPs usually accommodate for seasonality, which can take many different forms. Newly launched devices and OSs can send the mobile in-app economy into overdrive, whereas back-to-school and sports seasons can create influxes of inventory that were not previously available. In light of the global pandemic, the mobile economy is finding more viable users in a new variety of surging applications, games, and placements that, similar to seasonal bumps, have not been not previously available.

Keeping models and optimization strategies relevant by ensuring that we accommodate the new normal should also be a universal impact of the pandemic across many DSPs’ behaviors.

Now please tell us more about CrossInstall. How does your DSP stand out? 

While it may be difficult for a DSP to stand out in a crowded market, we believe that CrossInstall stands out in a handful of ways, here are a few of our tenants which we carry through all of our partnerships:

  • Transparency & Scale – CrossInstall has traditionally been one of the first programmatic partners for transitioning ad networks, as well as a consistent top 10 buyer across our exchange partners. Moreover, we pride ourselves in transparency, not only in our business dealings, but also campaign and model granularity.

  • Playables & In-House Creatives – We’ll touch more on this later, but our company has an immensely talented and scalable Creative division, that works very closely with our partners and commercial teams to produce curated creatives (mainly playables, but also video and static). Furthermore, our Creatives team is able to see performance data from our DSP at all times and iterate its creative production cycle based on real-time feedback and performance.

  • DSP AM and DSP Analyst Pod Pairings – We certainly don’t want to take on any client with a sort of bucket approach of ‘another gaming partner’ or ‘another brand partner’. Our account teams are strategically assigned in a pod system, which pairs in a 2:1 system of having a unique AM and Analyst to manage each of our accounts. These account teams are tasked not only with the straightforward transactional account management, but also with a deep understanding of our partner’s UA strategies. Our AM team collaborates with our in-house Creatives team, as well as Data Science, to produce bespoke creative solutions and campaign modeling to manage and scale our accounts uniquely!

You were recently acquired by Twitter. Congratulations! How did this event change the way you work? 

Thank you! We are very excited about the Twitter acquisition, as we believe it is a huge validation of our team and tech we have been building for the past 8 years. 

With regard to change, nothing is immediate. Our plan over the next several quarters is to facilitate and ensure transitions and landings for CrossInstall’s team within the Twitter organization. In the future, we will look at how we can integrate and partner with MoPub (Twitter’s 2013 SSP Exchange acquisition) in order to best serve the full funnel of monetization and UA for our mobile partners.

What kind of performance ad campaigns does CrossInstall do? What are usually the results?

CrossInstall runs performance campaigns that are geared towards the ultimate optimization of down funnel advertiser KPIs, such as retention, sign-ups, and ROAS.

We utilize (and often, produce) a variety of creatives, most notably playable, video, and banners in order to meet our advertiser’s goals. We believe that the key to scaling and retaining campaigns alongside our partners lies in the shared goal of post-install events and quality. We are able to ingest post-install data and create unique models catered towards our partners’ UA strategies.

There are external pressures in the programmatic world like recent GDPR and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) regulations. What do you think is the best way to deal with these pressures?

GDPR may bring up some PTSD for some partners, but it is the nature of the industry we work within! We view keeping up to date with these types of policies as a top priority, and so we don’t really view them so much as pressures, rather as requirements for compliance that require some extra hustle. (smiles)

As more and more big players shift to first-price auction, how do you think it will affect CrossInstall and DSPs in general?

We’ve had a number of our top exchange partners shift to first-price auctions over the past few years! Initially, we had projected somewhat of a major pricing shift and were cautious about an equal chance of the impact being positive or negative. 

However, much to our surprise, our bidder and models adapted to first-price quite seamlessly. We didn’t perceive as much of a variance in pacing, scale, or spend as expected. This signifies to us that our pricing and valuation of the impressions have been quite strong all along.

Conversely, we believed that the first-price auction would be felt more on the publisher and monetization side. As such, we hope that exchanges will converge with parity in offering first-price auctions to their partner for a more level playing field across the entire DSP/SSP funnel.

Now that programmatic is making its way in the industry, do you think it’s finally becoming more popular with publishers compared to traditional forms of buying?

Yes, we believe so! While some publishers are likely utilizing a hybrid of ad network mediation and programmatic monetization, such execution may come with high operational costs. As more exchanges adopt programmatic and first-price auctions, publishers will inherently see the benefits of programmatic not only from the earnings standpoint but also from the operational and execution standpoints.

What are some of the trends that you foresee getting stronger in the nearest future?

Creative is key! With the big players such as Facebook and Google, moving towards campaign models where the creative is one of the only major levers that UA managers and advertisers can pull, we believe that performance/omnichannel DSPs and their exchange partners will naturally start to follow a similar approach.

And so, we believe that the importance of сreative vendors (or in-house production pipelines) will grow in the near future, but also algorithms, strategies, or platforms that facilitate the production and optimization of creatives will become increasingly important. We think that beyond simply the notion of creative iteration and testing, pushing the boundaries in terms of ad types, engagements, and placement specific optimizations, will become crucial in the years to come.

BidMachine is a programmatic ad exchange with in-app bidding technology at the forefront. For more information visit our homepage and stay tuned for the next blog post in our Q&A series!

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